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January 2010


Full Board


Joseph P. Frey


Renewal of Permission to Operate in New York State: The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary


December 23, 2009


Goals 2 and 4






 Issue for Decision (Consent Agenda)

              Should the Board of Regents renew the permission of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Kentucky, to offer courses from its Master of Divinity (M. Div.) program in New York City?

Reason(s) for consideration

              Required by State regulation.

Proposed Handling

              The question will come before the full Board at its January 2010 meeting where it will be voted on and action taken.

Procedural history

              The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Kentucky, seeks renewal of its permission to offer courses from its Master of Divinity (M. Div.) program in New York City.  The Regents granted such permission in 1996 and renewed it in February 2001 and again in January 2004.  Pursuant to Section 224 of the Education Law, Regents action is needed to renew the Seminary’s permission to operate in New York State.

The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary was established in 1859.  It offers graduate-level professional programs through the doctorate.  The Seminary has an enrollment of about 3,300 students.  It operates an extension center at the Metropolitan New York Baptist Association, 236 West 72nd Street, Manhattan, at which students may take up to 64 of the 90 semester hours of coursework in the Seminary’s Master of Divinity (M. Div.) program.  To complete the program, students must go to the Seminary’s main campus in Louisville.

Southern Baptist is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools as well as by The Association of Theological Schools in the United States and Canada.  The two accreditors conducted a joint visit to the Seminary, including its New York City center, in 2002. They renewed the Seminary’s accreditation for ten years.

The Department has determined that The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary’s activities in New York and the courses it has been offering meet satisfactory academic standards.  In Manhattan, the Seminary offers three to four courses each semester.  Faculty from the Seminary’s main campus and adjunct faculty, approved by the Seminary’s president and academic administration, teach the courses.  A total of 28 faculty have taught in Manhattan since the last approval in January 2004. Of these, 19 were full-time faculty  from the main campus; two of the nine adjuncts were from the New York City area.  Facilities at the Baptist Association building can accommodate up to 30 students in three classrooms and include a basic theology library.  Students also have borrowing privileges at General Theological Seminary’s library.

Southern Baptist sought authorization to offer courses in New York City because it believed that none of the seminaries in the City offered graduate theological education that embraced all evangelical Protestant Christian values. Since the last approval, which lapsed in January 2009, approximately 90 students have taken courses at the extension center. During the fall 2009 semester, eleven students were enrolled at the center. The Seminary does not plan to increase either its enrollments or the number or diversity of courses offered.  Therefore, the Department determined that there was no potential effect on other institutions and waived the need to canvass degree-granting institutions on this request.


          It is recommended that effective January 12, 2010, permission be granted nunc pro tunc to The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Kentucky, to offer courses from its Master of Divinity (M.Div.) program, for a period beginning on February 1, 2009 and ending on January 31, 2014.